Death Before the Fall

Post Reply
Skepti Que
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Death Before the Fall

Post by Skepti Que » Mon Feb 24, 2003 7:14 pm

Was there absolutely no death before the fall or was there only no death of Adam and Eve before the fall? How could man know about death if he had not seen it? Did Adam ever step on a bug in the garden? Were plants living? What was the diet of lions, bears or wolves? Was the Garden of Eden the only place where animals dwelt or were animals, preditors and carnivores especially, excluded?

User avatar
Dr. John Nay
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2003 7:34 am
Location: Prescott Valley, Arizona

A Garden of Questions

Post by Dr. John Nay » Tue Feb 25, 2003 8:59 pm

:D First, thank you for joining our forum. I will address your questions in the order in which you asked them:

1. Death - First, it is important to understand what the Bible teaches relative to death. The word itself means "separation". Adam was commanded - " must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17, NIV). In the day Adam ate of this tree he died spiritually. Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,...." (NIV) As a consequence of his sin he was cast out of the Garden, "...He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tyree of life." (Genesis 3:22-24, NIV) This was the introduction of physical death, a consequence of Adam's sin, i.e. "It is appointed unto man to die once, and then the judgement." (Hebrews 9:27)

2. Bug -I don't know as to whether Adam ever stepped on a bug in the Garden, although the thought of not know this doesn't bug me : ) It does appear from a Scriptural perspective that he probably did not.

3. Plants -Interestingly, plants are not "living" as the Bible defines living. Scripturally, they would need to have the "breath of life" and "blood" (Genesis 2:7 cf. 7:12 & Leviticus 17:11).

4. Diet - When one compares Genesis 1:29-30 with Genesis 9:3 it appears that both man and animals were designed initially to be herbivores. (Don't think I'd do well without my whoppers) Keep in mind that an Astralian Fruit Bat has large canine teeth, but is a herbivore, the same for a Panda Bear and many other canine bearing herbivores. Even Mosquitoes (only the female sucks blood - they don't bite, but stab :). When the female mosquito is in a nutition rich enviornment, she does not drink blood.

5. Dwelling Place - I don't know the answer to your question (Deuteronomy 29:29), however, it does not appear to me that there were preditors and carnivores before the entrance of sin into the world.



Post by xot » Wed Feb 26, 2003 6:08 am

Dr Nay, was what you call 'the introduction of physical death' instead a 'with-holding of eternal life'?

maybe it's of no consequence what it's called.

however, Gen 3:22-24 does seem to imply that the body created for Adam was subject to decay even before the first sin. (why would a tree of life be necessary if the original body were immortal? -- in case of accidents? if a woolly mammoth stepped on Adam, Eve could run over and get some fruit from the tree, feed it to Adam and 'heal' him? OK, that's a lame theory, but does anyone have a better one?)

User avatar
Dr. John Nay
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Jan 24, 2003 7:34 am
Location: Prescott Valley, Arizona

Post by Dr. John Nay » Wed Feb 26, 2003 9:25 am

:D Eternal Life - I believe the Bible teaches that the whole of man in the "physical" body is of three parts; body, soul, & spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). It appears to me that all men (saved and lost) are eternal beings; a portion of what it means to be created in the image of God. The "introduction of physical death" could well be expressed "with-holding of eternal life in a 'physical' body". I agree with you that it may be of no consequence what it is called.

Decay of physical body - Through the process of mitosis (division and replication of cells) one has a new body about every seven years. It was once believed that brain cells do not replicate, this is somewhat in question today. At the very least it appears that parts of the brain are designed to take over functions of damaged parts of the brain. At any rate, God's initial design (appears to me) was for man to live eternally in a physical body (implied by Genesis 3:22-24). Once sin entered the world because of man exercising his free-will to disobey God the Second Law of Thermodynamics was implemented, i.e. all matter decays and becomes less useful (less energy available). As to how this related to the eating of the fruit of the tree of life I do not know.

Mammoth - The Bible doesn't tell us much relative to man's relationship the animals before the Fall (entrance of sin). The First Commandment found in Scripture is in Genesis 1:28, "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increae in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'" I do believe that Adam had mental abilities far beyond what are available to us today (use far less than our mental potential & perhaps less mental potential available because of our damaged gene pool) I don't think Adam "spoke" audibly to the animals. However, the relationship of animals and Adam may have been much closer (sixth sense?). I realize I didn't say this well, but am running short on time this morning. I think it was a case of the lion lying down with the lamb. I don't believe that the tree of life was a ready fix, but again, as to how it specifically related to the physical body I do not know.


tree of life

Post by xot » Mon Mar 03, 2003 8:08 am

If there was to be no physical death, why would there even be a tree of life in the first place? The account in Genesis is pretty clear that Adam with sin could have eaten of it and become immortal (again?). So if Adam (without sin and immortal) had eaten of this tree, it wouldn't have had any effect(?), since Adam already had 'life'. The existence of the tree of life is just a very very curious fact.

Suppose Adam didn't sin, but one (or a few) of his grandchildren did, then would death and decay etc. coming into the world work retroactively? And then would those before (like Adam) without sin (but a suddenly with a decaying body) have been allowed to line up at the tree of life for a recharging and any sinners not allowed?

Joe Birdsall

re: Tree of Life

Post by Joe Birdsall » Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:44 pm

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Gen. 3:22 NIV)

Something drastic to place when man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was that? Why the prohibition in the first place?
Since man (even then) was possessed of a finite mind, he was incapable of understanding the gravity of the disobedience. He had no idea (I would suppose) that one simple act started in motion the complete corruption of all creation. (Read Paul?s take on this in Romans 1 and 8.
What was so horrible about learning the difference between good and evil? That is very much in evidence throughout Scripture, indeed, through the entire history of man. When man learned the difference, he almost always took the evil path. God knew that. He knew that if man knew the difference, he would choose evil.

Of course, that creates another question. Why did God create man in the manner that He did in the first place? Right now, I am studying free will and what part the Holy Spirit plays in directing us in our Christian walk.
When God created man, He (God) captured His image in a living, breathing, yet finite being. Being finite (limited), there simply had to be restrictions. Being physical beings, we have physical desires. We simply cannot have the mind of God and live in a body. You can read in the Gospels where Jesus even had restrictions concerning knowledge and I would suppose other things. He WAS tempted, but did not sin. Was it easy for Him? I really doubt it. He KNEW whom He was, where He came from and KNEW where He was going. Even with that, it must have been a monumental temptation.

God has free will and He took the risk of imparting that to us. He knows our potential. He knows that that more knowledge gets in the way our relationship with Him. The more we can do for ourselves, the less we have to depend on Him. The less we have to depend on Him, the more sin there is in the world and the worse the corruption becomes. The worse the corruption becomes the more moral decay and then more corruption.

There are very high stakes here. We almost always take the wrong road because of our PHYSICAL being. Only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit can we clear the detritus from our minds and free our bodies and spirits to serve God.

Free will is very simple. Without it, we are robots. Adam was not a robot, but he was innocent. There is a difference. Innocence in a physical being is necessary. Without it, we are doomed and creation is doomed too.

Why was the Tree of Life in the garden? What was its purpose? Perhaps as a symbol of God?s provision and love. Perhaps it was necessary for the continuance of immortality. (I may be stretching it there.) There is no command to not eat from the Tree of Life that I can see. The command was to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Sorry for the split infinitives). After Adam and Even sinned, they no longer were innocent. Therefore, they had to be removed from the presence of the Tree of Life.

And we have been separated from it ever since.



Post by xot » Thu Mar 06, 2003 11:22 am

you asked "why the prohibition in the first place?"
there must be a rule just for the sake of the rule or free will would be meaningless. this is explained more eloquently in Perelandra by CS Lewis.

Joe Birdsall

RE: XOT answer to prohibition

Post by Joe Birdsall » Thu Mar 06, 2003 12:17 pm

you are absolutely correct. Without rules (law), free will means nothing.


Death before the Fall

Post by julian » Fri Jan 23, 2004 4:46 pm

I would offer some thoughts for your discussion. Knowledge brings judgement, in other words you cannot be condemned if you have no intent or knowledge. This includes knowledge of good as well as evil. Without knowledge God would not see man's actions as sinful and thus subject to a decision or judgement as to their goodness or evil. They just were. That doesn't prevent things happening which we now describe as evil. Animals kill other animals but we don't judge them for it because we don't see any intent to do harm just to survive. Judgement brings death. This effectively means exclusion from God's presence. To be brought into God's presence after sin requires sacrifice. Cain and Abel made offerings even though there is no suggestion they had done anything particularly wrong themselves. There was no need for sacrifice before sin because man could rest easy in God's presence. We are told sin entered through the actions of one man. Eve isn't included in this. If Adam had remained innocent sin would not have entered the world. Effectively Adam would have been a Christ for Eve and any children. Salvation is founded on faith not law. Adam's faith, ie obedience or belief in God's word that he shouldn't eat the fruit, would mean he could act as advocate for those who did break the commandment. If this were not the case then Jesus would have to die any time anyone sinned. But sin is generic, in other words it is the state of the world founded on this knowledge which means that all actions have to be judged.

In Revelation the tree of life is mentioned as being for the healing of the nations. It cannot be the source of immortality in the sense that eternal life if promised through faith in Jesus. I would therefore propose that its withdrawal relates to the fact that Adam lost the right to use it to heal which he would have had if he had remained obedient. Life would still bring pain just as animals innocently cause suffering. Healing would have meant renewal and therefore immortality through constant renewal. He already had the right to be in the presence of God. In Revelation we are told the end purpose of God is to live with Mankind. I would assume that the fulfillment of this idea was always God's purpose but Adam would have been the high priest representing mankind in his sinless state.

The two trees point to some kind of spiritual dimension in the story of the Garden in Eden. After all the tree of life is guarded by a cherubim. As such is cannot exist in the material world or it would still be available to us. Someone could eat of it by accident. The Garden appears to be a spiritual or visionary experience available to a chosen couple, just as Moses had a unique experience of seeing a burning bush or the prophets had visions like Ezekiel's by the river. This accounts for the strange talking serpent, a symbol of wisdom around the world. In this sense as someone with this particular role Adam was already acting as a kind of high priest preserving the innocence of the world with special rights before God.

Post Reply